Welcome to the debut of the Socket, Unplug Nashville Newsletter. The Department of General Services (DGS) is excited to bring you quarterly updates on all of DGS’ sustainability “happenings.” In this issue, you’ll meet the team, learn more about DGS’ LEED portfolio, the Center of Responsible Energy (CORE) and other energy efficiency efforts DGS is pursuing to make Nashville a sustainability beacon in the South.
Welcome to Socket, Unplug Nashville’s newsletter, your update on the Department of General Services’ sustainability initiatives. In this issue, you’ll learn about Socket’s new employee workshops, Nashville’s updated greenhouse gas emissions inventory, and DGS’ portfolio of energy-efficient projects as well as meet our growing team. And don’t forget to check out our blogs and look for Socket, our mascot, as you are out and about this season!
Recently, Metro Water Services partnered with Metro General Services to place these “Drains to River” signs on storm drains throughout Metro’s Fulton Campus. Similar signs can be found on storm drains across Nashville to remind us that anything thrown on the ground – from trash to cigarette butts – can make its way into storm drains and then into the Cumberland, our source for drinking water.
Meet Jennifer Westerholm, Sustainability & Outreach Manager for DGS’ new Sustainability Division. Jennifer is responsible for the Department’s Socket, Unplug Nashville outreach and education program.
Jennifer’s experience includes federal government work for the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. as an energy efficiency analyst and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA as a climate change research fellow. Jennifer has worked with nonprofit organizations focused on justice, health, and the environment in Nashville and beyond, both as staff member and Board member. Most recently, she was the executive director of local nonprofit Urban Green Lab.
When Mayor Megan Barry signed the Compact of Mayors (now, Global Covenant of Mayors) in 2015, Nashville became one of nearly 650 cities around the world to commit to provide evidence of local climate leadership and showcase the global significance of local actions. The Compact requires signatories to measure and disclose greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, formulate target emissions reduction goals, and implement an action plan to achieve those goals.
Nashville updated both the community scale and municipal greenhouse gas emissions inventories to fulfill the Compact of Mayors agreement by measuring and disclosing the data. The inventories detail greenhouse gas emissions both for the entire city and for Metro government alone. View a summary of the GHG reports here.
The data show a slight increase in overall emissions compared to 2011, which can be attributed to increased population and a richer dataset in this most recent analysis.
The data show that transportation and buildings (both commercial and residential) are the largest contributors to Nashville’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Jennifer Westerholm is the Sustainability and Outreach Manager for General Services' Division of Sustainability.
Her experience includes federal government work for the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. as an energy efficiency analyst and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia as a climate change research fellow. Jennifer has worked with nonprofit organizations focused on justice, health, and the environment in Nashville and beyond, both as staff member and Board member. Most recently, she was the executive director of Urban Green Lab, Nashville's nonprofit dedicated to improving wellbeing through sustainable living. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Greenways for Nashville.
Jennifer is a Nashville native and alumna of Metro Public Schools who graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College with honors in history. She holds a Master of Public Health in environmental health with honors from Emory University.
Despite efforts to reduce Nashville's greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, levels remain largely flat, and the city's rising traffic congestion and waste are main reasons why.
Nashville emitted 13.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, according to a new report issued Tuesday by Mayor Megan Barry's Livable Nashville Committee, equating to 20.14 metric tons per person. This is about on par with the national average of 19.15 tons.
Nashville's latest count is a slight uptick from the 13.2 million tons tallied in 2011, when Nashville's last greenhouse inventory was conducted, but slightly less than the 20.84 per-person rate of 2011. In 2005, Nashville's total greenhouse gas emissions equated to 26.17 metric tons.
Laurel Creech, assistant director of Metro General Services' division of sustainability, said some might feel discouraged to see the overall number go back up, but she said the inventory in 2014 included more data than the 2011 version. She also pointed to the city's rapid growth and development.
"Obviously you know that Nashville's has had a lot of growth, so transportation is a large contributor, waste is a large contributor and buildings is (sic) a large contributor," Creech.
The new emissions inventory, released before environmentalists gathered at the downtown library on Tuesday, is part of a lengthy report on improving sustainability in Nashville that includes 25 recommendations on a wide-rang of topics including mobility and transit, green buildings, waste reduction and natural resources.
Nashville is among a group of cities with a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050. The regular inventory of emissions is required as part of Barry's participation in the Compact of Mayors network started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to tackle environmental issues.
Any Longsworth, director of the Boston Green Ribbon Committee and keynote speaker at Tuesday's event, said cities are increasingly at the battlefront of environmental issues.
"It's also partly because they just don't have a choice," she said. "Because 50 percent of us live in cities now and by 2050, 80 percent will live in cities. And city leadership has to figure out a way to do that and have some kind of quality of life."
Metro officials and a consultant began its count of emissions this past October and concluded work in December. Gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, among other gases. The year 2014 was used as a benchmark because the city lacked full data for 2015.
From 2011 to 2014, Nashville saw levels of emissions from commercial, industrial and residential energy, but emissions from transportation rose from 4.5 million metric tons to nearly 5 million, accounting for 37 percent of all emissions in Nashville in 2014. Emissions from solid waste more than doubled from 342,791 to 1.05 million.
Barry assembled the 35-member Livable Nashville Committee in May to "build upon the successes of" former Mayor Karl Dean's Green Ribbon Committee. Barry's group divided work into five areas: natural resources, mobility, waste reduction and recycling, green buildings and climate and energy.
In addition to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, the committee has also established goals of a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and 40 percent by 2040.
Recommendations also include ensuring that 40 percent of all Nashvillians are within 15 miles of transit access points; establishing an annual "Green State of Metro" mayoral address: implementing sustainability practices across Metro government; and encouraging current and future mayoral administration to dedicate staff to sustainability.
"This work offers an opportunity to not just advocate for a more livable city, but to authentically make progress toward it," Barry wrote in the report's preface.
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @Joeygarrison.